Activists of the opposition political forces and public organizations from Montenegro initiated a rally from Podgorica to Brussels. According to the organizer of the action, the head of the movement “Hopeless Resistance” Marco Milachich, the activists are to declare in front of the international community about the necessity of a referendum on the country’s accession to NATO.
The event “Referendum caravan” which was launched on February 20 will end on March 3. After Belgrade the activists still have to overcome the way to the capital of Belgium through the city of Banja Luka, Zagreb, Ljubljana, Vienna, Prague and Berlin.
One of the stop on the way to Brussels was the city in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Banja Luka is the capital of one of the two national entities within the country called the Republic of Srpska (RS). The Montenegrin opposition expected to get considerable support from the Serbian population, negatively related to the prospect of accession of Bosnia and Herzegovina to NATO.
According to the official position of Sarajevo, the most important issue of Bosnia and Herzegovina external policy is to create conditions for the early entry into NATO and the EU. This policy of Euro-Atlantic integration is welcomed in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, where 50-70 percent of the people support country’s membership in NATO. In the Srpska Republic, the vast majority of the population does not support the idea of accession.
The protests against the country accession to NATO have been held in Banja Luka before. Residents of city often gather on the main square, to remind of the bloody NATO military actions in Yugoslavia in 1999.
According to the leader of public patriotic organization of the Republic of Srpska “Our Serbia” Mladjan Djordjevic, the West is actively working to maintain artificial separatist movements inside the RC. Moreover, the West is providing active support for Sarajevo, to deprive Banja Luka sovereignty and the right to resist the policy of Bosnia and Herzegovina to join NATO. At the same time, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina actually lives on external funds. The corruption reaches colossal scales, and the authorities have become puppets of the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina.
However, despite the political pressure from the West and the official Sarajevo, the Srpska Republic, headed by its national leader Milorad Dodik, continues to protect its sovereignty and legitimacy. They actively supported the rally on February 24 in Banja Luka.
Copyright © Milko Pejovic, Global Research, 2017
Nikki Haley Watch: Trump’s Disaster UN Ambassador Loses it Over Syria Sanctions Vote
Although Russia signaled that it would veto the US/UK/France UN Security Council Resolution adding sanctions on the Syrian government over allegations that it used chemical weapons on its own people, the Resolution was brought to a vote anyway today. In the end, it was vetoed by Russia, China, and Bolivia, with three additional countries abstaining.
The Resolution and accompanying sanctions were a classic case of guilty until proven innocent, as the investigations into the alleged use of chlorine gas are ongoing and have established no definitive proof of Syrian government culpability.
That did not stop President Trump’s “Disaster Ambassador,” Nikki Haley, from once again displaying her astonishing ignorance in a blistering (but groundless) attack on Russia and China for not falling in line behind the US-led sanctions effort.
Ambassador Haley started out:
When you hear members of the Security Council speak about the use of chemical weapons, it’s pretty amazing because you have unity in the fact that we need to be concerned about chemical weapons use in Syria and elsewhere. That is why the blocking of this resolution is so troubling.
The Resolution was vetoed not because Russia and China are not concerned about chemical weapons, but rather, as the deputy Russian Ambassador to the UN said, because the investigation is flawed in its approach and politicized in its conclusions:
The problem is that the basis of expert work on Syria come from dubious information submitted by the armed opposition, international NGOs sympathetic to it, the media and so-called ‘Friends of Syria’…
This is the same approach to Syria that the Obama Administration has taken since 2013: taking the word of the rebels — all of which according to Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), who was in Syria, are radical extremists — as fact. That is how so much US weaponry sent to “moderates” in Syria ended up in the hands of al-Qaeda and ISIS.
Yet President Trump’s Ambassador to the UN is ready to take the word of the radicals and terrorists over the Syrian government, which is fighting radicals and terrorists.
Haley cluelessly went on:
Russia and China made an outrageous and indefensible choice today. They refused to hold Bashar al-Assad’s regime accountable for the use of chemical weapons.
But Assad has not been found guilty of the use of chemical weapons. It was a flawed investigation that used testimony of disreputable special interest groups to push a “regime change” agenda.
And like the Obama Administration before it, Trump’s Ambassador is going right along with the program. Including taking as gospel reports from the George Soros-funded Human Rights Watch, which has been firmly on the side of regime change in Syria.
Investigative journalist Robert Parry reported last year that UN investigators looking into the use of chlorine gas by the Syrian government were given evidence that jihadist groups were staging false flags to blame the Syrian government. They chose to ignore the reports.
United Nations investigators encountered evidence that alleged chemical weapons attacks by the Syrian military were staged by jihadist rebels and their supporters, but still decided to blame the government for two incidents in which chlorine was allegedly dispersed via improvised explosives dropped by helicopters.In both cases, the Syrian government denied that it had any aircraft in the areas at the times of the purported attacks, but the U.N. team rejected that explanation with the curious argument that Syria failed to provide flight records to corroborate the absence of any flights. Yet, if there had been no flights, there would be no flight records.
The U.N. team also dismissed out of hand the possibility that jihadist rebels who had overrun some air bases and thus had operational helicopters at their disposal might have used them as part of a staged event designed to incriminate the Damascus regime and thus justify U.S. or other outside military intervention.
Another problem with the U.N. team’s findings is that the home-made chlorine bombs had minimal military value, inflicting relatively few casualties and only a handful of deaths.
Why the Syrian government, which was under intense international pressure regarding alleged chemical weapons use and was in the process of surrendering its stockpile of such weapons, would have jerry-rigged a handful of homemade bombs and dropped them for no discernible military effect makes little sense.
But that doesn’t faze Haley. Like her predecessor, Samantha Power, for Nikki Haley and her UN team any evidence contrary to the pre-determined conclusion is to be ignored.
Ambassador Haley said:
Now step back from the Security Council. The reason we all should care about this resolution is that we want to make sure no one ever thinks about using chemical weapons.
Here again we have Obama era hypocrisy on display. The US government has admitted it used deadly depleted uranium munitions in Syria thousands of times.
Unproven and illogical allegations that the Syrian government used chlorine gas on its own citizens must be punished, according to Ambassador Haley. But the self-admitted fact that the US has also used a horrible form of mass weapon — depleted uranium — in Syria is completely ignored.
And again, why would Assad use chlorine gas on his own people? The majority of the Syrian population support Assad, for one. Why would he want to gas them?
Also, when facing a fight for survival against al-Qaeda, ISIS, and other foreign-backed extremist groups, why waste time and risk the wrath of the international community to use such an inefficient weapon as chlorine gas?
According to the big Human Rights Watch report released earlier this month, up to nine people were killed in the attacks blamed on Assad. Nine people!
Might the desperate terrorist groups, who are losing territory every day, not have the incentive to frame the Assad government by either faking a chlorine attack or making an attack and blaming it on the Syrian government? After all, even Ambassador Haley has admitted that the rebels have also used chemical weapons.
The Great Nikki Haley Train Wreck continues. And with it goes any hope that President Trump will pursue a foreign policy in any way resembling the one he promised on the campaign trail.
Copyright © Daniel McAdams, The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, 2017
Syria – Erdogan’s Lost Bet – Trump Likely To Follow A Cautious Strategy
The last Syria thread noted:
South of Al-Bab the Syrian army is moving towards the Euphrates. It will cut off the Turkish forces path to Raqqa and Manbij.
That move concluded. The Turkish invasion forces are now blocked from moving further south. They would have to fight the Syrian army and their Russian allies to move directly onto Raqqa. They would have to fight the Syrian-Kurdish YPG and its U.S. allies to move further east.
For the first time since the start of the war the supply lines between Turkey and the Islamic State are cut off!
Erdogan is still hoping for U.S. support for his plans for Raqqa but I doubt that the U.S. military is willing to give up on their well regarded Kurdish proxies in exchange for an ill disciplined Turkish army in general disarray and with little fighting spirit. Erdogan removed any and all officers and NCOs that he perceived as not being 100% behind his power grab. That has now come back to haunt him. He is lacking the military means to pursue his belligerent policies.
Last year Erdogan had allied with Russia and Iran after a (U.S. supported?) coup attempt against him failed. He felt left alone by the U.S. and its reluctance to support his plans in Syria. After Trump was elected Erdogan perceived a coming change in U.S. policies. He exposed himself as the ultimate turncoat and switched back to a U.S. alliance. His believe in a change of U.S. policy drives his latest moves and announcements.
Elijah Magnier reports that his sources in Damascus have the same impression of Trump as Erdogan. They believe that Trump will strongly escalate in Syria and will support the Turkish moves against the Syrian state.
But it is the U.S. military that drives the strategy in the Trump cabinet. The Pentagon has no appetite for a big ground operation in Syria. The plan it offered Trump is still the same plan that it offered under Obama. It will work with Kurdish forces to defeat the Islamic State in Raqqa. Notable is also that a director of the Pentagon financed think tank RAND Corp publicly argues for better cooperation with Russia in Syria. The old RAND plan of a decentralized Syrian with zones under “international administration” (i.e. U.S. occupied) is probably no longer operative.
Recently Erdogan announced that his next move in Syria would be to towards Manbij, held by the YPK. Shortly thereafter pictures of U.S. troops in Manbij displaying U.S. flags were published on social networks. The message was clear: stay away from here or you will be in serious trouble.
On Monday planes from the Iraqi air force attacked Islamic State positions within eastern Syria. The attack followed from intelligence cooperation between Syria and Iraq. It is easier for Iraq to reach that area than for Syrian planes stationed near the Mediterranean. This cooperation will continue. In western Iraq militia integrated with the Iraqi military are ready to storm Tal Afar. This is besides the besieged Mosul the last big Islamic State position in the area. The U.S. had planned to let the Islamic State fighters flee from Mosul and Tal Afar towards Syrian and to let them take the Syrian government positions in Deir Ezzor. Syrian-Iraqi cooperation blocked that move. The U.S. attempt to separate the war on the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq failed. Any attempt to again use the Islamic State as a means to destroy Syria will meet resistance in Iraq where the U.S. is more and more engaged. U.S. commanders in Iraq will be well aware of that threat.
In my opinion Trump’s more belligerent remarks on Syria, on safe zones and military escalation, are rhetoric. They are his negotiation positions towards Russia and Iran. They are not his policies. Those are driven by more realistic positions. Obama balanced more hawkish views supported by the CIA, Hillary Clinton and the neoconservatives against reluctance in the military to engage in another big war. Trump will, even more than Obama, follow the Pentagon’s view. That view seems to be unchanged. I therefore do not believe that aggressive escalation is the way Trump will go. Some additional U.S. troops may get added to the Kurdish forces attacking Raqqa. But any large move by Turkish or by Israeli forces will not be condoned. The big U.S. invasion of Syria in their support will not happen.
Meanwhile the Syrian army is moving on Palmyra and may soon retrieve it from the Islamic State. A new Russian trained unit, the 5th corps, is in the lead and so far makes a good impression. With Palmyra regained the Syrian army is free to move further east towards Raqqa and Deir Ezzor.
Erdogan may still get some kind of “safe zone” in the area in north Syrian his forces now occupy. But Damascus will support Kurdish and Arab guerilla forces against any Turkish occupation. The Turkish forces in Syria will continue to be in a lot of trouble. Erdogan will not get active U.S. support for further moves to capture Syrian land. His change of flags, twice, was useless and has severely diminished his standing.
Netanyahu and the Israel lobby also want a “safe zone”. This one in south Syria and under Jordanian command. This would allow Israel to occupy more Syrian land along the Golan heights. But the areas next to the Golan and towards Deera are occupied by al-Qaeda and Islamic State aligned group. These groups are a serious danger for the unstable Jordanian state. There is nothing to win for Jordan in any “safe zone” move. Likewise the U.S. military will have no interest in opening another can of worms in south Syria. Like Erdogan Netanyahoo will likely be left alone with his dreams.